We got to the cabin on the 24th of June and stayed for a week, we came back today. While walking through a gift shop with overpriced souvenirs, I see a magnet that reads, “I teach for three reasons: June, July and August.” Very true, I think. Vacations should afford moments and opportunities mostly absent from daily life. For the kids, that included eating ice cream four days in a row. First we went to Ice Cream Alley and then walked down by the marina, to sit on the grassy knoll in front of the lake. The next day, after swimming for two hours in the hot evening, we took the kids to My Father’s Place where the kiddos enjoyed ice cream while my bride and I shared fries and a strawberry shake. We were the family that all of a sudden broke out in arm wrestling competitions right there on the patio tables: Andres versus Gretna, Analise versus Lucia. I abstained but I did watch as a gentleman and his wife enjoyed the competition as they ate burgers from their jacked up truck.
We went to the lake almost everyday. We parents overthink things sometimes. We did not rent jet skis, canoes or a pontoon boat like I thought we needed to have fun. We had the water, sand and mountains as our audience. And for the kids, that was enough. The littles (Lucia and Saraphina) played at the edge of the cold water and the shore with sand toys. Every once in a while, Lucia with her life jacket and Phina with her floaties, dared deeper waters until fear kicked in, turning them back to shore.
I went deeper, did you see me?
Out of all the days we visited the lake, I did not see two kiddos closer than the olders (Andres and Analise), especially when they played baseball on the beach. Their bases were plastic sand castle toys, their field, white sand, a wiffle ball and two snow ball throwing sticks turned baseball bats was all they needed to have fun. And if they hit one into the water, it was a homer. Andres and I played catch in the water with a white spongy ball which we purposed to throw just right to induce a diving catch and splash. He jumped off my shoulders like a million times. I swam out to the large orange buoys tied together by a steel cable. I rested on one, hugging it, loitering and enjoying the cold water, watching the general splendor of all sorts of watercraft, before stroking back to shore. Later, I walked the girls out to the deeper waters. They clung to me as I showed them there is nothing to fear. Ordinarily, they would’ve been hesitant to do so. However, you’d be amazed what a child would do for the promise of a special treat. And if you guessed ice cream, you’d be right.
Gretna took pictures of the family when she wasn’t reading Jane Eyre.
You’ve read the book?
I’ve seen the movie.
What’s that screech about?
You really want me to tell you?
No. Tell me nothing.
And of course, a trip to the lake or beach would not be complete without the proverbial burying of dad in the sand which the kiddos did with gusto and, unfortunately for me, with the occasional, accidental sand storm across my face at the hands of Saraphina.
When we weren’t in the water, we were hiking through Ponderosa State Park. During our first visit, we did the Lily Marsh Trail and during our second visit, we hiked the Huckleberry Trail. On both hikes, we were blessed to come across deer as they foraged through the forest. It was neat to see them up close and unconcerned with people walking through their digs. Andres took point on our hikes and I brought up the rear, pleased at how my small platoon, especially my girls, displayed toughness and attacked the inclines as the enemy, that would be mosquitoes, ambushed us here and there.
Saraphina enjoys it all from the ergo on my back. At Osprey Cliff Overlook we stop for water and the view. As the Huckleberry Trail nears its end, Gretna challenges Andres and Analise to see who can run and get to the end first. She tries over and over to run past Andres and Analise but they box her out, Analise pulls on the back of Gretna’s shirt to slow her down and uses it to boomerang past her mother. Gretna laughs, the kids are competitive. I see the end before they do.
There’s the end. The van is up there.
But the only one who hears me is Gretna, Andres and Analise are too far ahead. Gretna runs to the van but the kiddos see her break for it.
I hear Andres say and him and Analise turn around and truck up the little hill. Andres first, Analise second, Gretna last.
The cabin is where we had smores on the back deck with a fire and shifted into chill mode. Watching movies, reading books, being lazy, catching naps, playing games. Andres had the loft, the girls the small, long attic turned bedroom with the v shaped ceiling and queen beds with white, puffy comforters and blankets for my princesses. Cars sighed past Lake Fork Road nearby.
In the morning, birds chirped a different language as I served up my coffee. Something about the way a cabin in the woods improves breakfast. We left this morning, sad to go but blessed by the trip.
Who had fun?
I say, reversing out of the driveway, gravel crunching beneath the tires.
Everyone yells and we head for home.